X

2 Democratic women in race to end GOP incumbent’s 24 years in Congress

Kate Schroder, left, and Nikki Foster
Kate Schroder, left, and Nikki Foster

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Ohio primary election was moved from March 17. The deadline to vote in the Ohio primary election is April 28. Voters must request an absentee ballot from their county’s board of election if they have not already voted. All absentee ballots mailed in must have a postmark of April 27 to be counted, and all ballots must be received by the boards by May 8 to be counted. Voters can drop off the ballots to board offices in person by 7:30 p.m. April 28. In-person voting will be offered on April 28, but will only occur at boards of elections early voting center and only be available for people with disabilities who require in-person voting and people who do not have a home mailing address. Local election officials say voters need to make sure they include all the required information on absentee ballot request forms and pay close attention to unsolicited request forms they get in the mail. State law allows ballots to be scanned but they cannot be tabulated until 7:30 p.m. April 28.

The Democratic primary race in U.S. House of Representives District 1 — one of those targeted for “flipping’ in this year’s presidential election — pits two very different women.

Kate Schroder, 42, of Cincinnati is running against Nikki Foster, 38, of Mason in the March 17 primary. The winner would challenge in the fall Republican Congressman Steve Chabot, who has held the seat for 24 of the last 26 years.

“This is the number 1 seat in Ohio targeted for flipping,” Schroder said, seated in her campaign office in the Northside neighborhood of Cincinnati.

Foster, a veteran and former U.S. Air Force combat pilot pointed to her endorsement by the Second Service Coalition, "a movement to elevate and organize the collective voice of incumbent House members and Congressional candidates who have dedicated their lives to serving our country" and headed by five veterans now in elected office.

“They all flipped districts like this one,” said Foster, seated in a coffeehouse in Mason.

RELATED: Chabot reelected to 6th term

Foster, who ran unsuccessfully against State Rep. Paul Zeltwanger in 2018, has to overcome Schroder’s larger campaign war chest ($730,000 to $450,00 so far, according to the campaigns) and the fact that the vast majority of the Democrats in district comprising all of Warren County and Western Hamilton, live on Cincinati’s west side.

Schroder is an admitted data nerd and 5th generation Cincinnatian in her first run for public office after working on numerous other campaigns.

She cited projections from the GQR research firm indicating 80 percent of Democratic voters in the coming election would come from the Hamilton County section of the gerrymandered district.

“To win this district you’ve got to be in all parts of it,” she said, adding she had been at a recent house party event on Foster’s home turf.

RELATED: Foster first to file to challenge Chabot reelection

In addition, Schroder, a member of the Cincinnati Board of Health who holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said 11 of 41 seats flipped in 2018, 11 were more Republican.

Voters are ready to look beyond party affiliation, she said. “People are looking for someone who’s authentic, can connect with them, has a low ego and gets things done.”

Foster was an All American rugby player at the Air Force Academy and is on leave from a contract administration job with General Electric. She suggested voters should back her because she comes from less affluent beginnings and, as the daughter of immigrants, better recognizes the plight of people struggling to make ends meet.

“We know what families are going through.” Foster said. “They are not getting ahead.”

Both are married with children and looking to women to help power them to victory. Each lists improving health care and helping veterans as a key issue.

Schroder’s endorsements include the Hamilton County Democratic Party and Cincinnati Democratic leaders.

RELATED: Candidates announced for 2018 Ohio House races

Foster, who holds a master’s degree in diplomacy from Norwich University, said she helped found the Mason-Deerfield Democrat Club and learned from her youngest child’s serious heart condition.

With military veterans, voters look past party designation, she said. “They don’t care what letter you have next to your name.”

Bethe Goldenfield, chairman of the Warren County Democratic Party, confirmed the county party was not endorsing in this race.

“I think we have two fantastic candidates,” Goldenfield said. “It’s going to all come down to turnout.”

Chabot is already fighting back.

“Both of my Democratic opponents are already airing television ads distracting from their radical positions in favor of a government takeover of health care and extreme policies like the Green New Deal,” he said in a recent email solicitation for campaign contributions.

MORE: Political reporting in Dayton Daily News

EARLY VOTING

Voters who want to get their ballots in before primary Election Day on March 17 can vote absentee by mail or in person at their county board of elections offices.

The deadline to request absentee mail ballots is three days before the election, or March 14. Absentee ballots must be signed. Absentee ballots that are mailed must be postmarked by the day before the election to be counted, or they can be returned in-person at the county board of elections before polls close at 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. (Do not take the ballot to a polling place.)

Early voting hours are the same in all counties:

‒ 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday, March 9, to Friday, March 13

‒ 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 14

‒ 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 15

‒ 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, March 16